Custom Decals

HemiAdda2d Jun 10, 2020

  1. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    So for most of my modeling life I've relied on Microscale decals, and a few others, but never needed custom decals.

    For a complete n00b, what kind of experience with custom decals does anyone have? I have a vendor in mind, but to defray the costs of setup, I'd like to take a whack at doing my own artwork.

    What resources exist to help me? What computer programs are needed, what font sizes, how to scale font sizes to photos?

    If there's a complete idiot's guide to custom decals, please share!
     
  2. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

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    Hemi,
    Talk to Robert Ray he has done a ton with corral draw.
     
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  3. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    How much experience have you with programs like Draw or Adobe Illustrator? How much experience do you have proparing art to go on a printing press? Do you have any graphic arts experience whatsoever?

    Beware. I have behind me a career as a pro photographer and a fair amount of prepress experience and I wouldn't go within a mile of decals.
     
    gmorider likes this.
  4. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Most places will charge you a minimum amount, usually 2 -3 hours for set up, no matter if you have your own artwork. The place I used in the past charges $35/hour for design and layup time then $24 per 8.5 X 11 page of decals. They do not state if they charge any minimum amount. My order was for white decals for a hopper fleet. I got one page of decals enough for 52 cars. That was less than $2.00 per car.
     
  5. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    So my experience with this stuff is minimal. I use Adobe Lightroom, Acrobat pro, Word, and that's about it.
    For doing the text only, what are some tips and tricks for scaling a photo to font size?
     
  6. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    How many decals are you talking about?
     
  7. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    You need to first define exactly what you need. Text only in black for orange cars using the Rio Grande font can be printed using Word, and any inkjet or laser printer. You just need to change the font point size to what you need.

    At the other end of the spectrum is multi color over white decals. Like NP heralds with the NP Rail Roman font in Z Scale. Here you need skills in using Corel Draw to convert text to curves, and create Vector Artwork that can be scaled to the size needed. Also you need a printer that can print white ink, then colors on top of the white, so you can apply the color decal to a Boxcar Red car for example. The color would not show up unless it is printed over white decal film or a layer of white ink. You need skills in drawing multi layer artwork in Corel Draw and you need an Alps MD printer (out of production since the late 1990's).
     
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  8. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

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    Tichy train group does custom work also a new decals maker K4 does some nice work, I am not sure if he takes custom work but its worth an ask. Metallic colors are the only issue now.
     
  9. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Just an add on. This place I used is a professional printer who is also a model railroader. They can do all colors including metallic as well as white. They advertise in Model Railroader Mag.
     
  10. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

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    Another option is Micro scale themselves. They will do custom run decals too.
     
  11. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    The 200+ sheet minimum order is a deal killer.

    That said, there's one that requires vector artwork, as it has graphics. The rest are reporting marks and data for private utility coal hoppers and gons.
     
  12. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

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    Try circus city decals Matt is real easy to work with.
     
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  13. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    I actually have already reached out to CC. He's asking for higher resolution scans of the photos I sent via Flickr links, as I wasn't the photographer. I am working that angle now, but if I can save money by doing the text work, I'll do that. Just need to figure out font sizes from a photo to N scale. The dimensional data is probably the most critical, and I probably have enough random lube plate decals to omit those, so the main concern are details like the red boxes with white text in this photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photo...1/in/gallery-123416308@N03-72157713622617197/
    Additionally, the FMC logo for other cars, and getting the reporting marks in the right color for those that aren't white.

    If I can do the text in Word, what font sizes should I use?
     
  14. urodoji

    urodoji TrainBoard Member

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    Circus City did my custom decals for me. They’re fantastic to work with.
     
  15. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

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    Definitely stay the course with Matt at CC. The quality of his decals it setting the bar right now. Whatever he is printing with is amazingly crisp and accurate. The decals are so easy to work with it’s amazing.
     
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  16. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have not had anything custom done by Circus City but recently got some MoW vehicle decals from them and was very happy with the product and service.
     
    Nick Lorusso likes this.
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Does he do scales other than N?
     
  18. urodoji

    urodoji TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, he does everything up to large scale, and is an accomplished modeler.
     

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